Empire and Poetic Voice: Cognitive and Cultural Studies of Literary Tradition and Colonialism

by Patrick Colm Hogan (University of Connecticut, Storrs)

State University of New York Press (Explorations in Postcolonial Studies Series), forthcoming.


Going beyond standard treatments of writing back and hybridity, Hogan presents an account of literary identity as more various and less politically straightforward than is commonly recognized. Extending his account of practical and reflective identity from Colonialism and Cultural Identity, Hogan begins the book by articulating a theory of literary identity that is simultaneously cognitive and cultural. In relation to this, Hogan critically examines work by two influential theorists of identity--Judith Butler and Homi Bhabha‹and presents a revised evaluation of the important Nigerian critics, Chinweizu, Jemie, and Madubuike. In each case, he argues that our understanding and evaluation of these writers are altered by a clear analysis of the diverse cognitive operations of identity. In six literary chapters, Hogan considers works by Rabindranath Tagore, Anita Desai, George Lamming, Derek Walcott, Amos Tutuola, and Agha Shahid Ali. Each chapter involves detailed examination of literary tradition (e.g., revisions of the Ramayana or the history of religious and political allegory in the Persian/Urdu ghazal). Each chapter also involves a cognitive analysis of some theoretical problem bearing on literary tradition and colonialism ("writing back" and the use of cognitive exempla, domain mapping and racism, etc.).